More than 1,200 dead as floods devastate South Asia
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More than 1,200 dead as floods devastate South Asia

SOME 13 people were killed in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi after heavy monsoon rains hit the sprawling metropolis, officials said on Thursday.

The deaths were the latest in a disaster that has so far killed more than 1,200 people across the region encompassing India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Some 40 million people have been affected, with floods expected to intensify as rains continue across the region.

All three countries suffer frequent flooding during the June-September monsoon season, but aid agencies say things are worse this year with thousands of villages cut off and people deprived of food and clean water for days.

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People and vehicles pass through a flooded road after the rain in Karachi, Pakistan, on Aug 31, 2017. Source: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro

“These are some of the worst floods we’ve seen in South Asia in decades and the impact is likely only going to get worse,” Madara Hettiarachchi, Christian Aid’s humanitarian head in Asia, said in a statement.

“Farms and livestock have been washed away so food security is going to be a huge problem.”

The worst floods in a decade struck Nepal, killing 150 people and destroying 90,000 homes.

Monsoon floods submerged more than a third of low-lying, densely populated Bangladesh, causing more than 130 deaths and widespread crop damage.

Spurred by the disaster, the Indian government will finally begin work on a US$87 billion scheme to connect some of India’s largest rivers, government sources said.

Government officials say diverting water from bounteous rivers such as the Ganges, Godavari and Mahanadi to sparse waterways by building a clutch of dams and a network of canals is the only solution to floods and droughts.

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A woman walks through a flooded village in Motihari, Bihar State, India, on Aug 23, 2017. Source: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton

“We have got clearances in record time, with the last round of clearances coming in only this year,” Sanjeev Balyan, the junior water resources minister, told Reuters. “The Ken-Betwa interlinking tops the priority list of the government.”

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet is likely to give its final go-ahead for the project within a couple of weeks, sources say, after which he will flag off construction at the site about 805km from New Delhi.

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“Climate disasters demonstrate our collective humanity and interdependence,” wrote environmental commentator Mark Lynas for CNN on Thursday.

“We have to help each other out – in the short term by saving lives and in the longer term by cutting greenhouse gases and enhancing resilience, especially in developing countries.”

Additional reporting by Reuters